SMADC to debut new butchery at workshop
HUGHESVILLE, Md. — The Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission will debut the region’s new Amish slaughterhouse at a butchery workshop in October.
The commission also decided to delay the inclusion of a retail store in its regional agricultural center, set for construction in St. Mary’s County within the year, said Craig Sewell, the commission’s livestock and marketing specialist.
“It’s a production facility, not a supermarket,” he said.
The store could be added after the center opens in 2021, Sewell said. The commission made the decision after listening to concerns from farmers across Southern Maryland, which includes St. Mary’s, Charles, Calvert, Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties.
Since the commission awarded a $1 million grant to St. Mary’s County’s government in May to build the center in Charlotte Hall, some farmers in the region have expressed concern that the project could turn the commission into a powerful competitor in the local meat market.
In addition to selling local farmers’ meat, the commission plans to buy and process its own animals and grow local meat production so the region’s farming community can supply large, institutional customers and supermarkets.
The retail store, Sewell said, was outside the commission’s current focus.
“It was never a big deal,” he said. “The production, the supply chain and the distribution components are what’s important. … It wasn’t worth — at the present time — the time, energy or capital to invest in that.”
The agricultural center is designed to work in concert with Westham Butcher Shop, a new Amish slaughterhouse several miles away from the commission’s ag center site in Charlotte Hall. Commission officials envision a chain of service in which farmers have their animals slaughtered at Westham and taken to the agricultural center for cut and wrap or charcuterie services.
The center will be equipped with classroom and commercial kitchens, a meat locker and a cold storage facility that could be used by fruit and vegetable farmers to store produce.
Some local farmers will have an opportunity to get their first official look at Westham on Oct. 9 when the commission hosts a butchery workshop featuring Camas Davis, a renowned butcher and author, and Adam Danforth, an award-winning butcher.
The full-day workshop will advise farmers on whole animal butchery, cut sheet analysis and hands-on butchery.
“Through hands-on lessons and demonstrations, Davis and Danforth will reveal how each cut of meat holds great potential for positive, even transformative, flavor experiences for the eater, a key component to successfully marketing the whole animal,” the commission said in a statement. “They will also delve into more practical questions about yield and pricing that are bound to occur as producers are settling on a cut sheet with their processor.”
Highlights will include a nose-to-tail pig butchery, an anatomy lesson and muscle tasting for a maximum class of 30. A subsequent hands-on butchery lesson limited to 12 has already sold out, Sewell said. The commission also plans to bring a charcuterist to the facility in February.
“The end goal of all this movement … is drawing attention and energy, and it hopefully will culminate in our own full-service meat cooperative,” Sewell said.
The commission continues to work with Westham to get the slaughterhouse USDA certification, he said.
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